Some Doctor Who trailers have been almost as epic as the episodes themselves. He’s a rundown of some of the very best…
The Web of Fear trailer
Doctor Who trailers were rarer in the 1960s, and they certainly weren’t the fast-paced, teaser-filled cinematics that we experience today. And in 1968, Doctor Who went one step further and actually shot a specially-written scene to promote the upcoming Yeti adventure ‘The Web of Fear‘ which, sadly, is now lost to the sands of time. (That is, the trailer, not the story!)
But this was an unusual scene in that it actually featured the Doctor breaking the fourth wall and addressing the audience directly, teasing them about the return of the dreaded Yeti who had last appeared in ‘The Abominable Snowmen.’ In the trailer, he is in the London Underground and warning viewers that the returning monsters were going to be a little bit scarier this time round, and advising children to keep a close eye on their parents in case they were frightened!
And whilst this Doctor Who trailer is sadly missing in its entirety, the audio was captured by a fan at the time of the original transmission, and the full scene was recreated in CGI for the DVD and Blu-ray release of ‘The Web of Fear’ so that it could be enjoyed once more.
33 years, 8 Doctors, 98 videos
The next of our Doctor Who trailers first featured on the 1996 video release of the TV movie, and was used to promote the wide range of VHS tapes that were available from BBC Video.
And this was one of the more important Doctor Who trailers in that, for some viewers (including yours truly) this was the very first glimpse of Classic Who. Indeed, the TV movie was the first Doctor Who story that some people had ever seen, and the trailer that preceded the feature brought viewers up to speed on the Doctor’s past lives, as it featured a montage of the first Seven Doctors including their regeneration scenes and a whole host of the series’ most famous monsters.
Interestingly, this trailer became something of a rarity and was quickly replaced with the ‘new dimension of adventures’ trailer which put a greater emphasis on the latest range of products from BBC Worldwide rather than the VHS back catalogue, but it did make a return appearance on the ‘Planet of Fire’ video release in the late 90s.
The Trip of a Lifetime
“Do you wanna come with me?” The next of our Doctor Who trailers is perhaps one of the most iconic. For a whole generation of viewers, this was their introduction to the world of Doctor Who as it featured the new Doctor Christopher Eccleston giving a whistle-stop tour of the TARDIS and teasing viewers with what to expect in his brand new series of adventures.
Unlike the other Doctor Who trailers on this list, this one took many forms which varied in length, and they were peppered throughout the BBC schedules in the weeks leading up to Doctor Who‘s return in March 2005. One variant included Rose Tyler asking viewers whether she should stay at home with her mum and her job, or whether she should “chuck it all in” for monsters, adventure and “life or death.”
And for those viewers who hadn’t watched the leaked version of ‘Rose,’ this was their first glimpse at footage from the new series, which included fleeting moments from ‘The Unquiet Dead,’ ‘Aliens of London,’ ‘World War Three’ and ‘Dalek’ – the latter being the first on-screen appearance of the metal mutants since 1989 (aside from non-canon adventures like ‘The Curse of Fatal Death.’)
And like some of the other Doctor Who trailers on this list, the production team shot a brand new scene which showed the Ninth Doctor running through a pedestrian subway as he was chased by a ball of fire. Undoubtedly, viewers were in for a “trip of a lifetime” when the series returned.
The Bad Wolf trailer
And speaking of the trip of a lifetime, the 2005 series also saw the introduction of ‘end of episode’ Doctor Who trailers – short montages that teased what was to come the following week. And for viewers of ‘Boom Town,’ this proved to be a particularly exciting moment as the trailer for the next episode ‘Bad Wolf’ confirmed the (proper) return of the Daleks. Before this, it was believed that all Daleks in the universe had been wiped out during the Time War, and the Ninth Doctor had previously encountered what he thought was the lone survivor.
But there were many other reasons to be excited about this episode, one being that it was the first part of the Ninth Doctor’s regeneration story. But it was also building up to the solution of the Bad Wolf mystery which had been gathering momentum throughout Series One. Viewers were finally going to learn who (or what) the mysterious Bad Wolf actually was, and just how the Daleks and a curious version of Big Brother played into this.
Simply put, this might not have been one of the most epic Doctor Who trailers of all time, but the amount of excitement it generated was palpable.
The Series Four trailer
Doctor Who was reaching the height of its popularity in the run-up to Series Four, and the production team certainly upped the ante for the trailer. Indeed, this was one of the first Doctor Who trailers (if not the very first) to also be screened in UK cinemas, and teased the return of Donna Noble and (perhaps even more excitingly) Rose Tyler, who had been trapped in a parallel universe since Series Two.
And considering how much actually happens in Series Four (with the return of Captain Jack Harkness, Sarah Jane Smith, Mickey Smith, Martha Jones, Davros and the Daleks) the Series Four trailer is relatively sparing in its details. It was made as part of a much bigger campaign of Doctor Who trailers, one of which featured a moody soliloquy from Donna Noble as she sat by a campfire. It is certainly one of the most memorable Doctor Who trailer campaigns of the modern era.
Which is your favourite of the Doctor Who trailers? And which ones would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.